How we accept new OFN "partners"?

Continuing discussions from Governance of the commons: inputs from and What are the values that we want OFN Partners to share?

We have raised that question a few times: how do we accept a new parnters in the Open Food Network? What are the criteria for allowing a local community/organization to use the brand OFN? We talk here about “entity partners”, like someone creating a local instance and willing to be part of the OFN and use the brand. But an entity usually starts with one or two people joining the discussion of course, so before entities there are people.

OFN being an open source and more generally, an “open” project, the basis is “anyone can join” of course, there is no entry barrier, but also we want to ensure that the people using the brand share a same vision of the food system we would like to see in the world, or at least are aligned on the values we collectively defend, in order to avoid a potential “damage” to the brand if there is somewhere a discrepancy with the way a local instance operates.

Still, we can represent the OFN as a cell, with a permeable membrane. Contributors/partners can go in and out. But what are the rules to get in and out?

###What are the rules to get in:

  • either we trust by default, as we are very clear on our messages, we display our values and share them, we can suppose that only people/org who share those values and are aligned will join. “We attract what we shine :-)”. Then we can manage the tensions when/if they appear, but by default we want a diverse community so we also accept that some people have other opinions. But we should at least share the values with any new comer and make sure they align with those values, so in case of tension, we can refer to those values and eventually point out some inconsistencies that could be at the origin of the tension. This way of thinking means: no formal voting from current members is needed to start a local OFN and use the brand, but any partner using the brand is accountable for the OFN values.
  • or another way of thinking would be a cooptation process, with a form of approval from the current partners before a new partner can join.

###What are the rules for getting out?
We also need to discuss about in which situations a partner stops being part of the network. Maybe it just mean either a partner is not active anymore, or either the partner is not acting in a consistent way with the OFN values.

We discussed with @Selmo and @serenity about it some months ago, but we didn’t start a discussion on the topic so here it is :slight_smile: In this discussion, we came up with a proposal:
1- share our values clearly; this is now done here
2- ask the current / potential partners to sign an “agreement document”. @serenity proposed that we could all sign an agreement document, inspired by the CTA seal document and also by this great document by Greg Cassel re agreement based organisations @serenity you said you might work on a first proposal, but please let me know if you have no time, I can give it a go as well. Both individuals and organizations could sign that document, claiming their alignment with the project, its vision and mission, and the rules of the community.
3- ask the potential new partners to post a message on Discourse about who they are, their local project, and how their project is aligned with those values, being concrete on how they embody the different values + sharing how they want to engage toward the community (with their own formulation). This should remain pretty open, the idea is to know the people joining the community, and enable any current member to engage a discussion with them on how they share the values of the community.
4- come to a global HO and present themselves
5- maybe later, we can also introduce some form of cooptation if that’s needed. but if we can avoid to put a formal structure when there is no need, let’s wait :wink:

That way, if one of us has a tension, he will have occasions to express it, either by answering the Discourse post, or asking questions in the HO, and we will manage that tension. In general monthly HO are a good space to express tensions so that we can reshape permanently our organization.
What we see is that usually also we get to know the people in their journey to launch an OFN instance, so we get to know one another in the different discussions, and hangouts before a formal entity is created to drive a local instance project. So this proposal kind of reflects that natural process…

We could also maybe ask every instance to share a yearly update somewhere (might be a bit heavy, to be discussed!) so that we keep a global awareness how every instance stay aligned with those shared values and mission.

Please feel free to react on this proposal, and let’s move that discussion forward in the next HO maybe :slight_smile:

Ping @Kirsten @NickWeir @lin_d_hop @sreeharsha @fraschelo @CynthiaReynolds @tschumilas @ofnsa @devincent

thanks for your proposal @MyriamBoure - this sounds fine to me